A distinctly Ryukyuan stroll garden incorporating Japanese and Chinese styles.
Shikina-en is located approximately 2km south of Shuri castle and was established as a villa for the Ryukyuan Royal Family. Built in 1799, it was used as a resting place for the family and also as a reception area for envoys from the Chinese emperor. The construction of the garden followed the style of a stroll garden where visitors would encounter different facets of the scenery as they walked around the central pond. It was designed based on the style of a Japanese garden but the inclusion of a stone bridge and a hexagonal building known as the Rokkaku-do bespoke of Chinese architecture. Merging together these different styles, Shikina-en has garnered a high reputation for its unique beauty as a Ryukyuan garden. In the Battle of Okinawa during the Second World War, it suffered catastrophic damage but was fully restored after 20 years starting from 1975. In 2000, it, along with Shuri Castle, was registered as a World Heritage site as part of the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.
Head for the proud villa of the Ryukyuan Royal Family where you will feel the hospitality.
In the vicinity of the pond stands a building with a red-tiled roof known as the Udun. With a total area of 529 square meters, it is an open villa. At a glance, it seems like an Okinawan private residence but at that time, it was a refined palace that only nobles could enter. You can take a glimpse into the history of hospitality given for many guests through areas such as the tea room since the Ryukyu Kingdom was very much into the tea ceremony, a kitchen with a huge cutting board, and a large stone basin to warm food and drinks. After touring the Udun, head for the Kankoudai observation point. However, if you are expecting to see the beautiful sea of Okinawa, prepare to be disappointed. This was a diplomatic tactic by the Ryukyuan Dynasty. For the purposes of making a point to the Chinese envoy that the Ryukyu Kingdom was huge, it was built so that the ocean could not be seen.